These Words Will Make You Cringe

by Eliza Castile

We all know and loathe the word "moist," but it's hardly the only cringeworthy word out there. Because we just can't help ourselves when it comes to grossing each other out, underwear company Knix Wear compiled a list of the six words women find it most uncomfortable to hear — and boy is it a doozy. If you can get through this post without squirming in your seat at least once, you're made of sterner stuff than I am. Congratulations on your stoicism.

Knix teamed up with University of Pennsylvania linguist Mark Liberman and surveyed over 500 women to identify the most commonly hated words. According to the results, the women of America have a lot of feelings about a lot of words. The survey tallied more than 40 shudder-inducing terms, which Knix then narrowed down using a series of interviews and focus groups.

Our visceral reactions to the likes of "moist" are the result of something called word aversion, which Liberman defines as a "feeling of intense, irrational distaste for the sound or sight of a particular word or phrase." It's important to note that this dislike isn't due to taboo connotations or overuse of the word, but a seemingly inexplicable reflex.

As always, researchers have their hypotheses as to why this is. Some word aversions appear to have phonetic origins. As Liberman points out, words like "whimsy" and "pugilist" sound weird, which is why we dislike them. On the other hand, University of Chicago linguist Jason Riggle told Slate in 2013 that words with "food, or suckling, or sexual overtones" (ugh) frequently elicit unpleasant responses as well. Unsurprisingly, words that remind people of gross subjects, like "phlegm" and "ooze," also tend to be universally despised.If you need to take a break and shake off all the icky feelings brought about by that paragraph, feel free to do so now. Trust me, it was just as hard to write as it is to read, and things are about to get a lot worse.

Are you ready for this? Are you sure? OK. Here we go. According to Knix Wear, the six words women hate the most are:

6. Flap

Although it doesn't particularly bother me, "flap" was named one of the most hated words out there.

5. Curd

"Curd" has an innocuous meaning, but the survey found that it made almost a quarter of respondents uncomfortable. The word made the women in the video think of "odor," "cartilage," and a range of other unpleasant subjects. Yuck.

4. Chunky

There's a reason I only buy smooth peanut butter, and it's largely because "chunky" makes me think of vomit. Oh dear, that was two gross words in one sentence. What have I done?!

3. Panties

Really? "Panties" bothers 54 percent of women? I feel like there are much, much worse words out there, like "ointment" or "Donald Trump."

According to the video, however, women find the word "icky," largely for the childish connotation that come from it being something that comes in contact with your genitals.

2. Squirt

I just died a little inside, and so did everyone in the video.

1. Moist

A whopping 77 percent of respondents were uncomfortable with "moist," because of course they were. Are you surprised?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go bleach my brain and take a shower. If you're brave, you can check out the video below:

Images: Fotolia; Chapendra/Flickr; Giphy (7)